How can I tell whether my child has a fever?
- A childhood fever is, often, nothing to worry about. In fact, a fever is actually evidence that your child’s body is doing its job: Raising the body temperature, which signals white blood cells to attack whatever has invaded the body. Visit our Fever page for more information on symptoms, treatment, and more!
Are there medications that can reduce my child’s fever?
- In some cases, your child may not require any treatment/medications beyond careful observation and fluids to prevent dehydration. We will usually say to “treat the cold, not the fever”. If there is an underlying infection, allowing the fever to run its course may actually help by strengthening your child’s immune system.
If fever is making your child uncomfortable, you can use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help subside your child’s temperature. (Ibuprofen should not be given to babies under 6 months or for children experiencing extreme dehydration and persistent vomiting.) Tylenol® is available in liquid, chewables, tablets, or other suppositories. Ibuprofen is also available in these forms except suppositories. Do not worry if your child refuses to take those medicines unless they are lethargic or listless. If that is the case, you should be seek immediate medical attention
What should I do if my child has a fever?
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the normal body temperature for a healthy child is between 97 and 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, a temperature a degree above or below the “normal” 98.6° F is not considered a fever, since body temperature changes throughout the day and every individual is different. If your child has a fever, do not panic. The most important thing is to look at your child. If they are alert, interactive, occasionally playful, etc., they are probably ok. Common guidelines for contacting your doctor when fever is involved include the following:
Infants may not have fully developed the ability to regulate the body’s temperature; their temperature may actually drop instead of rise.
- 0-60 days: Any temperature of 100.4° (rectal) or higher or a temperature of less than 97°, go to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s ER immediately. This is considered an emergency and your child requires immediate evaluation. Even when our office is open, this is an immediate ER referral – daytime or nighttime. It is not required to contact our office prior. The ER will communicate with us after your child has been seen.
- 2-4 months: If your child has a temperature, your child should be seen that seen that same day or the following day if fever develops overnight and the infant is acting well.
- 4-6 months: Call if your child has had a temperature of over 102° for more than 48 hours (if otherwise acting well).
- 6 months or older: Call if your child has had a temperature of over 102° for more than 72 hours (if otherwise acting well) or sooner if your child has signs of earache, strep throat, UTI, bloody diarrhea, etc.
Any child with a fever who is significantly irritable or lethargic despite fever-reducers, who is having difficulty eating or difficulty breathing, or has altered mental status or any other concerning signs should be seen promptly.
Of course, you know your child best and we are always available to evaluate them in our office for a same day sick appointment if needed.